Our Holy Father Pope Francis’ baptismal patron died as a martyr 1,717 years ago today. The emperor Diocletian sentenced George to death, because the saint refused to recant his Christian faith.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.
(John 3:35-36, which we read today at Holy Mass.)
During the ensuing century, after St. George’s martyrdom, the persecutions of Christianity by the Roman emperors ceased. In Milan, in AD 313, the emperor Constantine declared Christianity tolerable.
But the fourth century saw tumult within the Church. Tumult the likes of which we could hardly imagine now. The college of bishops convulsed with party factions; the U.S. Senate of today looks like a club of polite, like-minded friends by comparison.
St. John Henry Newman narrated the hugely complicated business in his book, The Arians of the Fourth Century. I highly recommend reading it. To all past, current, and potential seminarians. (Others might find it rough sledding.)
The original faith of the Church needed a word to express itself. Homoousion in Greek, consubstantialem in Latin. With that word, we Christians confess the Incarnation and the Trinity, the essential mysteries of our faith.
Let me put it like this: The Son of God shares in the God-ness of God. To practice religion honestly, man must always divide everything that exists into one of two categories. 1. God. 2. Things created by God out of nothing. The eternal Son falls into Category 1, not 2.
We think of this question as settled forever at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. The Council did settle the question, doctrinally. But not Church-politically.
In ten days, we will keep the anniversary of the death of St. Athanasius. He held fast to the Nicene Creed, through all the internal strife the Church faced in of the fourth century. Newman wrote of Athanasius: “he was the principal instrument, after the Apostles, by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world.”
Athanasius held fast to the Nicene Creed; he confessed the Trinity and the Incarnation. For his pains, he was excommunicated and exiled five times. All of this after the Council of Nicaea.
The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church survived the fourth century. She continued, full of life, on Her pilgrimage through time. How? She clung with desperate love to Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh.
4 thoughts on “Feast of St. George”
Wonderful homily Fr. Mark. (Thanks for the “selfie.” ) A lot to think about as I go about my daily life today.
Second reply at day’s end: As I went through the day, I thought a lot about the history of the church, of the martyrs who died for the faith—their courage and refusal to turn against their faith to save their lives. I thought of the trials the holy church has survived. I wonder if we today really appreciate what those who have come before us did for the faith. Most of all I thought about the final paragraph, which really spoke to me, and especially this sentence: “She continued, full of life, on Her pilgrimage through time.” Beautifully said.
Fr. White, Church Militant just released a program regarding an extensive cover-up among the radist rad trads. https://youtu.be/guAD1bsFsPM Their video on youtube got 20,000 views in five hours. I bet Michael Voris would be happy to feature your story. I believe that bullying from bishops against their underlyings in the face of cover-ups wouldn’t be so bad if there were more public examples of priests speaking candidly. I hope you remain in ministry after your situation plays out. I bet bishop Strickland would grant you faculties in his diocese!
Fr. White, I also hope you continue your ministry whatever the future brings. No one should have to endure bullying, and what you are experiencing definitely qualifies as bullying. I know you don’t want to think about leaving your post, but prudence would say to have contingencies identified. God bless you, protect you, and guide you!